How to Grow Agave americana Plants in your Garden

Agave americana is also known as Century Plant, Sentry Plant, Maguey, American Aloe and Mexican Soap Plant, and is a member of the Asparagaceae family. It is native to Mexico and the southwestern United States.

These plants thrive in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 10; UK hardiness H2 (fairly tolerant of low temperatures but will not survive a frost).

Century plant mediopicta alba
Agave americana mediopicta alba photograph by Juan Ignacio 1976.

It is an ornamental succulent, and they are often chosen as a specimen plant or as additions to rock and cactus gardens, and dry beach gardens.

Agave americana plants are remarkable for their rosette-forming, three to five foot (90 to 150 cm) long grey-green or blue-green, prickly-edged leaves; these have sharp spikes at the tip.

The plant typically grows three to six feet (90 to 180 cm) in height with a six to ten foot (1.8 to 3 m) spread outdoors.


Agave americana Marginata photograph by Juan Ignacio 1976; CC.

In cooler climates they make excellent container plants, and grow to a much smaller size when grown in a contained space.

Despite the Century Plant moniker, Agave americana typically live for about 10 to 30 years.

Near the end of their life cycle, they will send up a singular stalk reaching 25 to 30 feet (8 to 10 m). This has loosely branched clusters of showy greenish-yellow flowers.

Agave americana Variegata

Agave americana varirty Variegata photograph by John Rusk; CC.

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Century Plant Mediopicta Alba

These herbaceous perennials prefer full sun or partial shade and sandy or rocky, well-drained soils.

Planted outdoors, they should be watered thoroughly from spring through the fall, but much less so during the winter months.

They are tolerant of drought and dry soils.

Indoor plants require more watering and should be placed near windows where they receive plenty of bright sun.

It takes years to produce seeds from Agave americana, so propagation is best done via the offsets that shoot up around the mother plant.

Plant offsets in a potting and cacti soil mix with a neutral pH.

As these plants are susceptible to root rot, adding small stones to the base of the container will help ensure good drainage.

Agave americana Growing and Care Guide

  • Scientific Name: Agave americana
  • Common Name: Century plant mediopicta alba
  • Growing Zone: USA: 8 to 11 / UK hardy to zone H2 (sensitive to low temperatures).
  • Life Cycle / Plant Type: Indoor Plant, Perennial, Succulents and Cacti

Plant Details

  • Plant Height (Inches): 72 to 120
  • Plant Spread (Inches): 72 to 120
  • Time of Bloom:
  • Flower Details: White, Yellow
  • Leaf Foliage: Blue, Silvery
  • Fruit:
  • Growth Form: Rounded

Ideal Growing Conditions

  • Best Light Conditions: Partially shady to full sunlight
  • Rate of Growth: Grows slowly
  • Suitable Soil Types: Acidic, Adaptable, Alkaline, Clay, Loamy, Neutral, Sandy, Slightly alkaline, Well drained
  • Soil Moisture: Dry

Caring Conditions

  • Care:
  • Level of Maintenance: Medium
  • Propagation: From offsets taken in spring or autumn
  • How to Prune: Not usually required
  • Pests: May be attacked byscale insects
  • Diseases: Usually pest free

Further Information

  • Can Attract:
  • Tolerant of: Drought, Dry Soil
  • Best Garden Use: Container, En masse , Rock garden, Seashore, Specimen
  • Family: Asparagaceae.

  • Closely Related Species: Asparagus densiflorus and Yucca plants.
  • Miscellaneous: Entices birdlife to the garden, Attractive foliage, North American native, Naturalizing, Some parts are poisonous, Flowers are rare, Blooms are very showy
  • Genus Detail: Agave
  • Further Reading and References: Here and Here

Agave americana mediopicta

Agave americana var. Mediopicta photograph by peganum; CC.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Agave americana. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Ophiopogon and Polygonatum plants.